Bush declared an emergency exists in TX

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">Residents fish along a dam&#39;s drainage system near Havana, three days after Hurricane Ike hit the island Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008. Forecasters said Ike, a category 1 storm, could become a major Category 3 hurricane before slamming into Texas or northern Mexico on Saturday. &#40;AP Photo&#47;Fernando Llano&#41;</span></div>
September 10, 2008 7:52:50 AM PDT
President Bush today declared an emergency exists in Texas as Hurricane Ike barrels through the Gulf of Mexico toward the state. TRACK IT: Location/forecast track | Satellite | Computer models | Watches/warnings | Hurr. wind probabilities | TS wind probabilities | Tracking map | Get Ike text alerts | Gulf water temps | Tim Heller's blog | Before the storm | Supply list | Photos

The declaration clears the way for federal aid to bolster state and local response efforts.

Governor Rick Perry already has declared disaster areas for 88 counties, as forecasters say Ike could reach Texas by early Saturday.

Bush's action authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts. Bush's order specifically names:

-- Aransas, Brazoria, Brooks, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Hidalgo, Jackson, Jefferson, Jim Wells

-- Kenedy, Kleberg, Liberty, Matagorda, Nueces, Orange, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, Wharton and Willacy counties.

Texas emergency officials are considering whether to order a mandatory evacuation of coastal counties as Ike approaches.

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